Thursday, May 28, 2015

[PaleoAnthropology • 2015] Australopithecus deyiremeda • New Species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene Hominin Diversity

Australopithecus deyiremeda Haile-Selassie, Gibert, Melillo, Ryan, Alene, Deino, Levin, Scott & Saylor, 2015

Middle Pliocene hominin species diversity has been a subject of debate over the past two decades, particularly after the naming of Australopithecus bahrelghazali and Kenyanthropus platyops in addition to the well-known species Australopithecus afarensis. Further analyses continue to support the proposal that several hominin species co-existed during this time period. Here we recognize a new hominin species (Australopithecus deyiremeda sp. nov.) from 3.3–3.5-million-year-old deposits in the Woranso–Mille study area, central Afar, Ethiopia. The new species from Woranso–Mille shows that there were at least two contemporaneous hominin species living in the Afar region of Ethiopia between 3.3 and 3.5 million years ago, and further confirms early hominin taxonomic diversity in eastern Africa during the Middle Pliocene epoch. The morphology of Au. deyiremeda also reinforces concerns related to dentognathic (that is, jaws and teeth) homoplasy in Plio–Pleistocene hominins, and shows that some dentognathic features traditionally associated with Paranthropus and Homo appeared in the fossil record earlier than previously thought.

Figure 1: Australopithecus deyiremeda Holotype BRT-VP-3/1. a, Occlusal view. b, Lateral view. c, Superior view. d, Medial view. e, Anterior view.
Paratype BRT-VP-3/14. f, Occlusal view. g, Right lateral view. h, Basal view.
Paratype WYT-VP-2/10. i, Occlusal view. j, Right lateral view. k, Basal view.
Referred specimen BRT-VP-3/37. l, Occlusal view. m, Buccal view. n, Lingual view. o, Distal view. p, Mesial view.

Order Primates Linnaeus, 1758 
Suborder Anthropoidea Mivart, 1864 

Superfamily Hominoidea Gray, 1825 

Genus Australopithecus Dart, 1925 

Australopithecus deyiremeda sp. nov.

Etymology: From the local Afar language terms deyi, meaning close, and remeda, meaning relative; thus referring to the species being a close relative of all later hominins.

Holotype: BRT-VP-3/1 (Fig. 1a–e), a left maxilla with upper second incisor–upper second molar (I2–M2) found by M. Barao on 4 March 2011. The originals of the holotype and paratypes are housed at the Paleoanthropology Laboratory of the National Museum of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Luis Gibert, Stephanie M. Melillo, Timothy M. Ryan, Mulugeta Alene, Alan Deino, Naomi E. Levin, Gary Scott and Beverly Z. Saylor. 2015. New Species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene Hominin Diversity.
Nature. 521, 483-488; doi: 10.1038/nature14448

New human ancestor discovered near fossil of ‘Lucy’
Australopithecus deyiremeda lived about 3.4 million years ago in northern Ethiopia, around the same time and place as Australopithecus afarensis. .... Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature.2015.17644
Palaeoanthropology: The middle Pliocene gets crowded

Australopithecus deyiremeda: New Human Ancestor In Ethiopia via @science2_0
New species of human ancestor lived alongside 'Lucy' 3.4m years ago via @MailOnline

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[Crustacea • 2015] Macrobrachium phongnhaense • A New Species of Troglobitic Freshwater Prawn of the genus Macrobrachium Bate, 1868 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Palaemonidae) from Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

Macrobrachium phongnhaense
Tu & Cuong, 2015
DOI: 10.15625/0866-7160/v36n3.5969


Macrobrachium phongnhaense sp. n. is a new species of troglobitic shrimp discovered in some caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province, Vietnam.

Habitat: This species lives in streams and standing water in the caves. These caves can be very long, about 4-5 km, such as Va Cave. They are completely without light and water in the cave is mainly from infiltration. Substrate can be silt, muddy or sandy mud.

Distribution: Found only in a few caves (Va, 35, Son Doong) in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province, Vietnam.

Etymology: Shrimp named for location where first obtained in caves in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

Remarked: The new species is characterized by a transparent body, highly degenerated eyes, smooth and slender second pereiodpods, elongated telson and unarmed preanal region. Morphological comparisons with allied troglobitic congeners are given in table 1.

Do Van Tu and Nguyen Tong Cuong. 2015. A New Species of Troglobitic Freshwater Prawn of the genus Macrobrachium Bate, 1868 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Palaemonidae) from Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam.
Tap Chi Sinh Hoc (Vietnam Journal of Biology)  36(3); 301-308.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[Paleontology • 2015] Nebulasaurus taito • A New Basal Eusauropod from the Middle Jurassic of Yunnan, China, and Faunal Compositions and Transitions of Asian Sauropodomorph Dinosaurs

Nebulasaurus taito
Xing, Miyashita, Currie, You, Zhang & Dong, 2015

Many sauropod ghost lineages cross the Middle Jurassic, indicating a time interval that requires increased sampling. A wide taxonomic spectrum of sauropodomorphs is known from the Middle Jurassic of China, but the braincase of a new sauropod, named here Nebulasaurus taito gen. et sp. nov., is distinct. Nebulasaurus is sister taxon to Spinophorosaurus from the Middle Jurassic of Africa and represents a clade of basal eusauropods previously unknown from Asia. The revised faunal list indicates dramatic transitions in sauropodomorph faunas from the Jurassic to Cretaceous of Asia; these are consistent with geographic isolation of Asia through the Late Jurassic. Non-sauropod sauropodomorphs, non-mamenchisaurid eusauropods (including basal macronarians), and mamenchisaurids successively replaced previous grades through the Jurassic, and titanosauriforms excluded all other sauropod lineages across the Jurassic–Cretaceous boundary.

Key words: Dinosauria, Sauropoda, Eusauropoda, Jurassic, China

Nebulasaurus taito | 太東雲龍
Nebulasaurus is an genus of basal eusauropod dinosaur known from the early Middle Jurassic of Yunnan Province, China. This discovery is significant paleontologically because it represents a clade of basal eusauropods previously unknown from Asia. The only fossil material recovered was a braincase, which was in a good state of preservation.
illustration: Cheung Chung Tat

Fig. 1. Geographical information on the locality of Nebulasaurus.
A. Map of China showing Yunnan Province (shaded black). B. Map of Yunnan Province showing the locality indicated by a silhouette of a sauropod.

Systematic palaeontology
Dinosauria Owen, 1842
Sauropoda Marsh, 1878
Eusauropoda Upchurch, 1995

Genus Nebulasaurus nov.
Type species: Nebulasaurus taito sp. nov.
Included species: Type species only.

Etymology: From Latin nebulae, misty cloud, after the alpine province of Yunnan (= southern cloudy province, Chinese); and from Greek sauros, lizard.

Diagnosis.—As for the type and only species.

Nebulasaurus taito sp. nov.
Etymology: In honor of the Taito Corporation of Japan, which funded the field project in and near the type locality. 

Holotype: LDRC-v.d.1, a braincase (Figs. 2, 3A, B).

Type horizon: Zhanghe Formation, lower Middle Jurassic, Aalenian/Bajocian (Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources of Yunnan Province 1990).

Type locality: The locality is in Xiabanjing, Jiangyi Rural Area, Yuanmou County of Yunnan Province, China (Fig. 1B). Information regarding precise location of the locality is protected by the local authority and available through LDRC on request.

Xing, L., Miyashita, T., Currie, P.J., You, H., Zhang, J., and Dong, Z. 2015. A New Basal Eusauropod from the Middle Jurassic of Yunnan, China, and Faunal Compositions and Transitions of Asian Sauropodomorph Dinosaurs.
Acta Palaeontologica 
Polonica. 60 (1): 145–154. DOI: 10.4202/app.2012.0151

[Botany • 2015] Chayamaritia, A New Genus (Gesneriaceae: Didymocarpoideae) from Southeast Asia

Fig. 3: Chayamaritia banksiae D.J.Middleton. b Close-up of flower showing strongly imbricate sepals; c Close-up of corolla throat and stigma.
Chayamaritia smitinandii (B.L.Burtt) D.J.Middleton. d Fruiting population of Middleton et al. 5632. e Flowering plant of Middleton et al. 5652.
Scale bars in c, d = 1 cm | DOI: 10.1007/s00606-015-1213-2

Abstract Based on a phylogenetic analysis of Asian Gesneriaceae with the most comprehensive coverage at the genus level to date, the new genus Chayamaritia is established and described in subfamily Didymocarpoideae, tribe Trichosporeae, subtribe Didymocarpinae. It contains two species, of which one, Chayamaritia smitinandii (B.L.Burtt) D.J.Middleton, was formerly placed in the genera Chirita and Henckelia. The other, Chayamaritia banksiae D.J.Middleton, is newly described. The exclusion of Chayamaritia smitinandii from Henckelia further clarifies the taxonomic and biogeographic limits of Henckelia following its considerable recircumscription during the recent remodelling and synonymisation of Chirita.

Keywords: Biogeography,  Chayamaritia, Gesneriaceae,  New genus,  Molecular phylogeny, Southeast Asia 

Chayamaritia D.J.Middleton & Mich.Möller, gen. nov.
— TYPE: Chayamaritia smitinandii (B.L.Burtt) D.J.Middleton.

Diagnosis: Similar to both Henckelia and Primulina in the tubular corollas, two fertile stamens and chiritoid stigma but differing from both in the combination of thickened rhizomatous prostrate stem, the alternately arranged leaves and the imbricate sepals.

Distribution: Central and eastern Thailand, Laos.

Etymology: The genus is named in honour of Dr Kongkanda Chayamarit of the Forest Herbarium in Bangkok. She has been a tireless advocate of research on the Thai flora and has been instrumental in the increase in publication rate of the Flora of Thailand series in recent years. She has done this through finding sources of funding for field work and family accounts and through ensuring that authors of accounts do not forget their promises! Currently only known from two species, one of them newly described here.

Key to the species in Chayamaritia
1. Calyx lobes 7–15 mm wide; corolla tube whitish ventrally, lobe margins dentate; leaves 1.5–1.9 times as long as wide, base rounded to subcordate …………… C. banksiae.
1. Calyx lobes 0.9–4.2 mm wide; corolla tube purple ventrally, lobe margins more or less entire; leaves 1.8–5.6 times as long as wide, base cuneate to attenuate or rarely rounded …………… C. smitinandii.

Fig. 3: Chayamaritia banksiae D.J.Middleton. a Whole plant in cultivation at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; b Close-up of flower showing strongly imbricate sepals; c Close-up of corolla throat and stigma. Chayamaritia smitinandii (B.L.Burtt) D.J.Middleton. d Fruiting population of Middleton et al. 5632. e Flowering plant of Middleton et al. 5652. 
Scale bars in c= 1 cm | DOI: 10.1007/s00606-015-1213-2

Chayamaritia banksiae D.J.Middleton, sp. nov.
— TYPE: Laos, Khammouan, Nam On catchment, Phou Ak escarpment, Nakai Nam Theun NBCA, 936 m a. s. l.

Distribution: Endemic to Laos (Khammouan Province). Habitat: Growing on sides of boulders in evergreen forest.

Etymology: Named after the botanical illustrator Claire Banks.

Proposed IUCN conservation assessment: Data Deficient. Chayamaritia banksiae is only known from one collection, and its complete distribution is unknown. The type specimen was collected from a cultivated plant with known provenance in Nakai Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area in Khammouan Province in Laos. Although the collection locality is not particularly far from the populations of Chayamaritia smitinandii in northeastern Thailand, the two species are easily distinguished, most obviously in leaf and sepal shapes as noted in the key and diagnosis.

Chayamaritia smitinandii (B.L.Burtt) D.J.Middleton, comb. nov.
—TYPE: Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khao Yai National Park, 6 Oct 1962, T. Smitinand 7491 (Holotype BKF) (Figs. 3c, d, 4) 

: Chirita smitinandii B.L.Burtt in Thai Forest Bull., Bot. 29: 89. 2001
: Henckelia smitinandii (B.L.Burtt) D.J.Middleton & Mich.Möller, Taxon. 60: 776. 2011.

Distribution: Thailand (Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok, Buengkan and Nakhon Phanom Provinces). Habitat: In evergreen and submontane forest in deep shade at 150–1200 m altitude.

Etymology: Named after the Thai botanist Tem Smitinand (1920–1995) who was also a maternal uncle of Kongkanda Chayamarit after whom the genus is named.

Proposed IUCN conservation assessment: Vulnerable VU B1 ab(iii). This species has an Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000, and the northeastern populations are widely separated from the central populations by the predominant agricultural landscape of northeastern Thailand. In addition, the known populations can be subject to disturbance by the high visitor numbers found in the areas where this species is found in Khao Yai National Park.

David J. Middleton, Kanae Nishii, Carmen Puglisi, Laura L. Forrest and Michael Möller. 2015. Chayamaritia (Gesneriaceae: Didymocarpoideae), A New Genus from Southeast Asia. 
Plant Syst Evol. DOI: 10.1007/s00606-015-1213-2

[Botany • 2015] Six New Species of Begonia (Begoniaceae) from Limestone Areas in northern Vietnam


Species of Begonia are richly represented in limestone karst areas across the Sino-Vietnamese border. More than one hundred species were known, many of which were documented recently. 

In continuation of our systematic studies of Asian Begonia, we report six species of Begonia that are unknown to science, namely B. caobangensis [sect. Platycentrum], B. circularis, B. melanobullata, B. langsonensis, B.locii and B. montaniformis [sect. Coelocentrum] from Northern Vietnam. Diagnostic features that separate them from morphologically allied species are provided. Somatic chromosome numbers were determined, which supports their placement in the respective sections. Foliar SEM microphotographs were taken and described.

A careful study of the literature, herbarium specimens and living plants, both in the wild and in cultivation in the experimental greenhouse, supports the recognition of the six new species, which are described and illustrated.

Keywords: Begonia caobangensis; Begonia circularis; Begonia melanobullata; Begonia langsonensis; Begonia locii; Begonia montaniformis; Limestone; New species; sect. Coelocentrum; sect. Platycentrum; Vietnam 

Ching-I Peng, Che-Wei Lin, Hsun-An Yang, Yoshiko Kono and Hieu Quang Nguyen. 2015. Six New Species of Begonia (Begoniaceae) from Limestone Areas in Northern Vietnam. Botanical Studies. 56:9; 1-23. doi:10.1186/s40529-015-0089-3

[Botany • 2012] Begonia bella • A New Species of Begonia (Begoniaceae) from Peninsular Thailand

 Begonia bella Phutthai (sect. Parvibegonia
A, habit and habitat; B, tuber with fibrous roots; C, leaf adaxial surface; D, trichomes on adaxial leaf surface; E, inflorescence; F, staminate flower; G, pistillate flower; H, young fruit with persistent stigma.

A new species from Thailand, Begonia bella Phutthai (Begoniaceae), is described and illustrated. It belongs in Begonia sect. Parvibegonia and is a narrow endemic in Phangnga province. Its IUCN category is considered to be ‘Vulnerable’.

Keywords: Begonia; new species; Thailand

Distribution. Peninsular Thailand, Phangnga, Namtok Ra Man Forest Park.

Habitat and ecology. In granite rock crevices or on damp streamside soils in seasonally dry evergreen forest. Flowering May to November; fruiting November to January.

 T. Phutthai, M. Hughes and K. Sridith. 2012. A New Species of Begonia (Begoniaceae) from Peninsular Thailand. Edinburgh Journal of Botany. 69(2): 287–292. DOI: 10.1017/S0960428612000078

[Botany • 2015] Goniothalamus flagellistylus Tagane & V. S. Dang • A New Species (Annonaceae) from Mt. Hon Ba, south Vietnam

Goniothalamus flagellistylus Tagane & V. S. Dang
(a) Leafy branch, (b) portion of abaxial leaf surface, (c) flowers on main trunk, (d) vertical section of flowers, (e) apertures between inner petals, (f–g) mature fruit on older blanch.

A new species, Goniothalamus flagellistylus Tagane & V. S. Dang, sp. nov. from Hon Ba Nature Reserve in Khanh Hoa Province, South Vietnam is described and illustrated. This species is most similar to Goniothalamus tortilipetalus M.R.Hend., but distinct in having 308–336 stamens (vs. ca. 170–260) and ca.120 carpels (vs. ca. 50–100) per flower, and Stigma and pseudostyles ca.8.5 mm (vs. 4–4.5 mm) long.

Keywords: Annonaceae, Goniothalamus, Hon Ba Nature Reserve, Vietnam

The genus Goniothalamus (Blume) Hook. f. & Thomson, with more than 130 species (Nakkhuntod et al. 2009, Tang et al. 2013), is one of the largest genera in the Annonaceae family. The species is characterized by mostly solitary, axillary and pendent flowers, two whorls of petals with inner petals smaller than the outer ones, the inner petals connivent and forming a distinctive dome over the stamens and carpels acting as a pollination chamber and stamens having apical connectives. Most species of Goniothalamus are distributed in lowland evergreen rain forests in Southeast Asia, extending from India to Australia, also in New Caledonia (Jessup 1986, Mat-Salleh 2001, Saunders 2002, Saunders 2003, Kundu 2006, Saunders and Munzinger 2007, Saunders and Chalermglin 2008, Turner and Saunders 2008). In Vietnam, the following 19 species of Goniothalamus are recorded: G. chartaceus H.L.Li, G. chinensis Merr. & Chun, G. donnaiensis Finet & Gagnep., G. elegans Ast, G. expansus Craib, G. gabriacianus (Baill.) Ast (Synonym, Goniothalamus saigonensis Pierre ex Finet & Gagnep.), G. gracilipes Bân, G. laoticus (Finet & Gagnep.) Bân, G. macrocalyx Bân, G. multiovulatus Ast, G. ninhianus Bân, G. takhtajanii Bân, G. tamirensis Pierre ex Finet & Gagnep., G. tenuifolius King, G. touranensis Ast, G. undulatus Ridl., G. vietnamensis Bân, G. wightii Hook.f. & Thomson and G. yunnanensis W.T.Wang (Finet and Gagnepain 1907, Hô 1999, Bân 2000).

During the botanical survey of Hon Ba Nature Reserve in South Vietnam, we encountered an undescribed species of Goniothalamus in Mt. Hon Ba at 400 m elevation. We here describe and illustrate this new species, Goniothalamus flagellistylus Tagane & V. S. Dang, sp. nov.


Figure 1. Goniothalamus flagellistylus sp. nov.
(a) Leafy branch, (b) portion of abaxial leaf surface, (c) flowers on main trunk, (d) vertical section of flowers, (e) apertures between inner petals, (f–g) mature fruit on older blanch, (h) holotype, (i) pedicel and sepals on old branch, (j) adaxial side of inner petal, (k) stamen, (l) carpel. (h–l) From Tagane et al. 1497.
Scale bars (i, j) = 1 cm, (k, l) = 1 mm. DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.50.4427

Etymology: The specific epithet is in reference to its flexuous styles which is too long to insert straight in the pollination chamber that formed by the inner petals.

Shuichiro Tagane, Son Van Dang, Tetsukazu Yahara, Hironori Toyama and Hop Tran. 2015. Goniothalamus flagellistylus Tagane & V. S. Dang (Annonaceae), A New Species from Mt. Hon Ba, Vietnam. PhytoKeys. 50: 1-8. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.50.4427

Sunday, May 24, 2015

[Ichthyology • 2015] Schistura sirindhornae • A New Species of Highland Loach (Ostariophysi: Nemacheilidae) from the upper Chao Phraya River basin, northern Thailand

Crown Scaly Stream Loach
Schistura sirindhornae Suvarnaraksha, 2015

Schistura sirindhornae, a new species of nemacheilid, is described from the Nan River basin in northern Thailand. It is distinguished from all other species of Schistura in having overlapping scales on the entire body similar to scales of balitorids, transparent scales on the belly and thorax, a lateral-line canal that is similar to that of most cyprinids and balitorids in being present across the entire lateral-line surface of the scale instead of being represented only by a pore. It also has a unique color pattern of irregular brown bars on the back and side of the faint yellow-orange body, a bright triangular orange mark on the occiput, an orange crown-shaped mark between the eyes, an uninterrupted black mark along the base of the dorsal fin, a crescent-shaped bar on the base of the caudal fin, and bright iridescent orange areas on the upper and lower extremities of the caudal-fin base. Schistura sirindhornae is known only from the upper Nan River drainage, Nan Province, Thailand.

Key words: Nan River basin, conservation, fish diversity, freshwater fish, stream ecology

FIGURE 8. A) Type locality of Schistura sirindhornae: Huay Nampan, upper Nan River basin, Ban Khun Koon, Moo 2, Tumbon Phuka, Pua District, Nan Province, B) deforested area with a maize plantation and dry stream bed adjacent to type locality .

Ecology, food and reproductive biology. Schistura sirindhornae lives in upland areas on the bottoms of cool, clear, flowing streams with pools and forest canopy. Schistura sirindhornae has been collected from 721-1,155 m above sea level in steep streams in Huay Nampan and tributaries of the Nan River basin. The Huay Nampan was about 2–4 m wide (Fig. 8A) and 0.2–0.5 m deep at the time of sampling (start of the hot-dry season); water volume might be much higher during the rainy season. This species was observed only in shaded areas and was absent from light-exposed open areas and lowlands. Substrate consisted mainly of stones, bedrock, and some sand and gravel in small pools. The upper stream bank was covered by large native trees with more than 90% canopy cover. At the time of sampling, the water was clear, and the temperature was 18.4°C (air temperature 22.5°C), conductivity 2.6 S · m−1, and pH 6.5. Other species of fishes collected with S. sirindhornae were Smenanensis (Nemacheilidae) and Oreoglanis suraswadii (Sisoridae). Gut dissections indicated that Ssirindhornae feeds mainly on aquatic insect larvae.

Distribution. Schistura sirindhornae is known only from the tributaries of the upper Nan River basin, in Pua and Borkluea districts, Nan Province, Thailand. The type locality is a small creek with a very steep slope, in Huay Nampan, Ban Khunkoon, Moo 2, Tumbon Phukha, Pua District, Nan Province (Figs. 8A and 9). Collection localities are in the upper-most tributaries near Xayaboury Province of the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao. 

Etymology. The species epithet honors Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for her 60th birthday anniversary, her biodiversity conservation projects including a Plant Genetic Conservation Project Under the Royal Initiation of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (RSPG), several projects in education and protein source security for rural communities, and many projects located in Nan Province, the type locality of this species.

Apinun Suvarnaraksha. 2015. A New Species of Highland Loach, Schistura sirindhornae, from the upper Chao Phraya River basin, Thailand (Pisces: Ostariophysi: Nemacheilidae).
3962(1): 158–170. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3962.1.8

[Botany • 2014] Balanophora coralliformis • A New Species (Balanophoraceae) from Mt. Mingan, Luzon, Philippines

 Balanophora coralliformis Barcelona, Tandang & Pelser

Balanophora coralliformis Barcelona, Tandang & Pelser is described as a new species of Balanophoraceae. It is unique in its coral-like appearance due to the repeated branching of elongated, above-ground tubers and their coarse texture. It most closely resembles B. papuana in details of the staminate inflorescence and is sympatric with this species at its only known site in the montane forest of Mt. Mingan, bordering Aurora and Nueva Ecija provinces, Luzon, Philippines. 

Keywords: Balanophora; Philippines; taxonomy; new species


Pieter B Pelser, D.N. Tandang and Julie F Barcelona. 2014. Balanophora coralliformis (Balanophoraceae), A New Species from Mt. Mingan, Luzon, Philippines.
Phytotaxa. 170(4):291-295. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.170.4.7

Saturday, May 23, 2015

[PaleoBotany • 2015] Euanthus panii • A Perfect Flower from the Jurassic of China

Flower, enclosed ovule and tetrasporangiate anther are three major characters distinguishing angiosperms from other seed plants. Morphologically, typical flowers are characterised by an organisation with gynoecium and androecium surrounded by corolla and calyx. Theoretically, flowers are derived from their counterparts in ancient ancestral gymnosperms. However, as for when, how and from which groups, there is no consensus among botanists yet. Although angiosperm-like pollen and angiosperms have been claimed in the Triassic and Jurassic, typical flowers with the aforesaid three key characters are still missing in the pre-Cretaceous age, making many interpretations of flower evolution tentative. Thus searching for flower in the pre-Cretaceous has been a tantalising task for palaeobotanists for a long time. Here, we report a typical flower, Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov., from the Middle –Late Jurassic of Liaoning, China. Euanthus has sepals, petals, androecium with tetrasporangiate dithecate anthers and gynoecium with enclosed ovules, organised just like in perfect flowers of extant angiosperms. The discovery of Euanthus implies that typical angiosperm flowers have already been in place in the Jurassic, and provides a new insight unavailable otherwise for the evolution of flowers. 

Keywords: flower; angiosperm; Jurassic; China; Liaoning

Figure 8. Sketch, details of micropyle and reconstruction of Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov.
(a) Sketch of the specimen shown in Figure 4(a). (b) Sketch of the micropyle, nucellus (N), and integument (blue) shown in Figure 7(j). (c) Reconstruction of Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov.

Figure 4. Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov. and its details. Stereomicroscopy.
 (a, b) The flower in two facing parts, with sepals (S) and petals (P) radiating from the receptacle. The black arrows mark the distal of the style, and the blue arrow in (b) marks the stamen shown in Figure 6 (d),(e),(h). Holotype: PB21685, PB21684. Bar ¼ 5 mm. (c) A sepal (S) is almost structureless between the two arrows, implying that it is attached to the receptacle (O) with its whole base. Enlarged from (a). Bar ¼ 1 mm. (d) Pentamerous receptacle with ovarian cavity (O) in its centre. Note the corners (arrows) of about 1108. Bar ¼ 0.5 mm. (e) Basal portion of the flower after degagement. Note spatial relationship among the ovary (O), style base, a possible filament stub (arrow), sepals (S) and petal (P). Refer to Figure 7(f). Bar ¼ 1 mm.

Type species: Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov. 

Etymology: Euanthus, for real flower in Latin. 

Horizon: the Jiulongshan Formation. 
Locality: Sanjiaocheng Village, Huloudao City, Liaoning, China

Figure 8. Sketch, details of micropyle and reconstruction of Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov. (a) Sketch of the specimen shown in Figure 4(a). (b) Sketch of the micropyle, nucellus (N), and integument (blue) shown in Figure 7(j). (c) Reconstruction of Euanthus panii gen. et sp. nov.

Euanthus from the Middle–Late Jurassic of Liaoning, China is a perfect flower typical of angiosperms, prompting a rethinking on the origin and history of flowers and angiosperms. If Euanthus were really related to eudicots, it would be intriguing to search for typical eudicot leaves in the Jurassic strata. The presence of a full-fledged flower such as Euanthus in the Jurassic is apparently out of the expectations of any currently accepted evolutionary theories, implying either that these theories are flawed, and/or the history of angiosperms is much longer than previously assumed.

 Zhong-Jian Liu and Xin Wang. 2015. A Perfect Flower from the Jurassic of China.
Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology.

DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2015.1020423

World's Earliest Flower may Date back 162 mln Years: Study

Friday, May 22, 2015

[Entomology • 2015] Deuteragenia ossarium | Bone-house Wasp • A Unique Nest-Protection Strategy in a New Species of Spider Wasp

Figure 2. Nest protection in Deuteragenia ossarium.
(A) Overview of a nest. Individual brood cells are separated by thin walls of soil material. (B) The nest is closed by a vestibular cell filled with dead ants. (C) Contents of a vestibular cell. Pachycondyla astuta was the ant species most commonly found, but other ant species, such as Polyrhachis illaudata Walker, 1859 (lowest ant specimen), occurred as well. (D) Freshly eclosed adult female of D. ossarium.
Scale bar: (A) 15 mm, (B) 5 mm, (C, D) 10 mm. Photographs: Merten Ehmig (A, B), Michael Staab (C, D).


Hymenoptera show a great variation in reproductive potential and nesting behavior, from thousands of eggs in sawflies to just a dozen in nest-provisioning wasps. Reduction in reproductive potential in evolutionary derived Hymenoptera is often facilitated by advanced behavioral mechanisms and nesting strategies. Here we describe a surprising nesting behavior that was previously unknown in the entire animal kingdom: the use of a vestibular cell filled with dead ants in a new spider wasp (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae) species collected with trap nests in South-East China. We scientifically describe the ‘Bone-house Wasp’ as Deuteragenia ossarium sp. nov., named after graveyard bone-houses or ossuaries. We show that D. ossarium nests are less vulnerable to natural enemies than nests of other sympatric trap-nesting wasps, suggesting an effective nest protection strategy, most likely by utilizing chemical cues emanating from the dead ants.

Figure 1. Trap nests to collect solitary cavity-nesting Hymenoptera.
(A) Exposed trap nest in the Gutianshan National Nature Reserve, the type locality of Deuteragenia ossarium. (B) Occupied reed internodes containing nests are identifiable by the characteristic nest seal that, in most species, consists of soil material. (C) Opened nests reared in test tubes closed with cotton wool.
Photographs: Michael Staab. || doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101592.g001

Etymology: The new species is named after the Latin ‘ossarium’, which means bone-house or ossuary. An ‘ossarium’ is a covered site, where human remains are deposited. The species name is an allusion to the unusual nesting strategy of the new species, which closes the nest with a vestibular cell filled with dead ants. This reminds us of historical bone-houses in monasteries and graveyards, which over time were filled with piles of human bones. The new name is a noun in apposition.

Suggested common name: As a common name for D. ossarium we suggest in reference to its biology the use of ‘Bone-house Wasp’.

Distribution: Known only from South-East China.

Figure 2. Nest protection in Deuteragenia ossarium.
(A) Overview of a nest. Individual brood cells are separated by thin walls of soil material. (B) The nest is closed by a vestibular cell filled with dead ants. (C) Contents of a vestibular cell. Pachycondyla astuta was the ant species most commonly found, but other ant species, such as Polyrhachis illaudata Walker, 1859 (lowest ant specimen), occurred as well. (D) Freshly eclosed adult female of D. ossarium.
Scale bar: (A) 15 mm, (B) 5 mm, (C, D) 10 mm. Photographs: Merten Ehmig (A, B), Michael Staab (C, D).

Michael Staab, Michael Ohl, Chao-Dong Zhu and Alexandra-Maria Klein. 2014.
A Unique Nest-Protection Strategy in a New Species of Spider Wasp.
PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101592

[Herpetology • 2015] Turtles and Tortoises of the World during the Rise and Global Spread of Humanity: First Checklist and Review of Extinct Pleistocene and Holocene Chelonians

Figure 14. Two species of extinct giant tortoises, Cylindraspis vosmaeri (larger, saddlebacked) and C. peltastes (smaller, domed) in their native habitat on Rodrigues Island in the late 1600s when accounts indicate the herds of tortoises were so large and dense that it was possible to walk for long distances on their backs without touching the ground (Leguat 1707).
Painting by Julian Pender Hume (from Griffiths et al. 2013).


We provide a first checklist and review of all recognized taxa of the world’s extinct Pleistocene and Holocene (Quaternary) turtles and tortoises that existed during the early rise and global expansion of humanity, and most likely went extinct through a combination of earlier hominin (e.g., Homo erectus, H. neanderthalensis) and later human (H. sapiens) exploitation, as well as being affected by concurrent global or regional climatic and habitat changes. This checklist complements the broader listing of all modern and extant turtles and tortoises by the Turtle Taxonomy Working Group (2014). We provide a comprehensive listing of taxonomy, names, synonymies, and stratigraphic distribution of all chelonian taxa that have gone extinct from approximately the boundary between the Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene, ca. 2.6 million years ago, up through 1500 AD, at the beginning of modern times. We also provide details on modern turtle and tortoise taxa that have gone extinct since 1500 AD. This checklist currently includes 100 fossil turtle and tortoise taxa, including 84 named and apparently distinct species, and 16 additional taxa that appear to  represent additional valid species, but are only identified to genus or family. Modern extinct turtles and tortoises include 8 species, 3 subspecies, and 1 unnamed taxon, for 12 taxa. Of the extinct fossil taxa, terrestrial tortoises of the family Testudinidae (including many large-bodied island forms) are the most numerous, with 60 taxa. When the numbers for fossil tortoises are combined with the 61 modern (living and extinct) species of tortoises, of the 121 tortoise species that have existed at some point since the beginning of the Pleistocene, 69 (57.0%) have gone extinct. This likely reflects the high vulnerability of these large and slow terrestrial (often insular) species primarily to human exploitation. The other large-bodied terrestrial turtles, the giant horned turtles of the family Meiolaniidae, with 7 taxa (also often insular), all went extinct by the Late Holocene while also exploited by humans. The total global diversity of turtles and tortoises that has existed during the history of hominin utilization of chelonians, and that are currently recognized as distinct and included on our two checklists, consists of 336 modern species and 100 extinct Pleistocene and Holocene taxa, for a total of 436 chelonian species. Of these, 109 species (25.0%) and 112 total taxa are estimated to have gone extinct since the beginning of the Pleistocene. The chelonian diversity and its patterns of extinctions during the Quaternary inform our understanding of the impacts of the history of human exploitation of turtles and the effects of climate change, and their relevance to current and future patterns.

Key Words: Reptilia, Testudines, turtle, tortoise, chelonian, taxonomy, distribution, extinction, fossils, paleontology, archaeology, humanity, hominin, exploitation, chelonophagy, megafauna, island refugia, climate change, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Holocene, Anthropocene, Quaternary

Anders G.J. Rhodin, Scott Thomson, Georgios L. Georgalis, Hans-Volker Karl, Igor G. Danilov, Akio Takahashi, Marcelo S. de la Fuente, Jason R. Bourque, Massimo Delfino, Roger Bour, John B. Iverson, H. Bradley Shaffer and Peter Paul van Dijk. 2015. Turtles and Tortoises of the World during the Rise and Global Spread of Humanity: First Checklist and Review of Extinct Pleistocene and Holocene Chelonians. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist GroupChelonian Research Monographs. 5(8):1-66. DOI:

Griffiths, O., Andre, A., and Meunier, A. 2013. Tortoise Breeding and ‘Re-Wilding’ on Rodrigues Island. In: Castellano, C.M., Rhodin, A.G.J., Ogle, M., Mittermeier, R.A., Randriamahazo, H., Hudson, R., and Lewis, R.E. (Eds.). Turtles on the Brink in Madagascar: Proceedings of Two Workshops on the Status, Conservation, and Biology of Malagasy Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. Chelonian Research Monographs. 6:171–177.